Koç University News & Announcements Bulletin

February 2018


February 2018 also went by incredibly quickly, almost as if before we could open and close our eyes and before we really enjoy good winter weather.  

I thought I should use the Newsletter this month to provide some detail about my days & weeks as reflected on my calendar. The most repeatable item on my calendar that is sprinkled to all of the weeks of February appears to be my brief appointments with candidates who make it to the ‘short-lists’ in our 20+ on going faculty searches and who visit our campus to present a Seminar and be interviewed by different people. 

This year, we are once again blessed with lots of really bright people, including many foreigners, who would like to join our ranks. In my meetings with them, I discuss very general issues about their experiences and topics that excite them and make sure to tell them that hiring decisions are not made by myself, that they are brought forth by our committees and that my main desire is to just to get to know them. The fact that these outstanding people from around the world, across the board from all disciplines, aspire to come here indicates that we are on the right path and that our future as a global center of excellence in research and teaching is secure.  

February 5th through 7th represented the days of an important milestone for our School of Medicine, as we were visited by the National Medical Education Accreditation Board  (UTEAK) for a long awaited assessment of our program. We were happy to see that the board was pleased with what they saw, and that it appears that our accreditation is now about to be formally approved. I thank all of our faculty members in the School of Medicine for the extensive preparations that they undertook for this visit, as well as our past Deans Prof. Şevket Ruacan, Prof. Evren Keleş, our Acting Dean Prof. Şükrü Dilege and our past and present Associate Deans for their contributions to this success. 

First week of February was also the start of classes for our new Semester. I was pleased to meet with my new students (70+ of them) and Teaching Assistants and I am greatly enjoying the Lectures and especially the question/answer discussions. Whatever else we do as university administrators and leaders, classroom teaching is by far the best and the most rewarding activity of them all and we are so very lucky to be in a profession of lifetime teaching. 

On February 5th, we were visited by a delegation from Taiwan, headed by the Taipei Metropolitan Mayor Ko Wen-je, who is apparently a rather popular person in Taiwan, possibly a candidate for President of Taiwan in the near future.  We were pleased to discuss with his delegation collaboration opportunities with Taiwanese industry as well as universities and we were delighted to hear the Mayor’s promise of establishment of a scholarship program for Taiwanese PhD students coming to study at Koç University.   

On February 8th, I attended an important mutual awareness meeting that is now regularly organized by the Governor of Istanbul with the Rectors of some 50+ universities in Istanbul. Our beloved city is truly a global-mega-city of some 15+ million people and the universities that operate in this great city have a responsibility of providing a free, secure and nourishing environment for the bright young people that represent our future. I took the opportunity of the meeting with all the other Rectors to raise their awareness of a pioneering sexual harassment education program that we developed over the last few years in the light of well-studied examples elsewhere adapted to Turkish laws, which was initiated and recently completed at Koç University. All our faculty, staff and students, at all our campuses (including the Koç University Hospital campus) have now completed this training, so we can be proud of having piloted this program in our country.  I offered the program we developed to the other Rectors at the meeting and I am pleased to see that many of them are following up on it. Sexual harassment in the workplace is an issue that victimizes many people, causing irreparable psychological and health effects. Especially in the light of a rising global awareness about this issue, we have the responsibility to do our best to educate our communities and ensure a workplace where people respect one another

The week of February 19th started with my day visit to Kayseri, to which I have not been in so many years.  I was hosted by the Kayseri Chamber of Industry (KAYSO) headed by Mehmet Büyüksimitçi, whose office attended to every detail of my visit, organizing separate one-on-one meetings with no less than nine local industries during the course of the day. There is a wide range of export-oriented industrial activity in Kayseri and the objective of our visits were to explore potential partnerships in the contexts of R&D and our Anatolian Scholarship program aimed at securing support for bright-but-needy students from Kayseri. Our visit was topped by a fantastic dinner at Kemal Koçak restaurant where I had a chance to taste the marvelous local delicacies. I am truly thankful to KAYSO for hosting my visit in such an excellent way.  

The rest of the week of February 19th involved a visit to 3M Headquarters in Istanbul for discussions with CEO Mert Büyükyazgan and his team. 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) is one of those great American Companies that invent seemingly little things that are so important in our daily lives, one of the best examples being the great post-its that have changed the way we run our offices. I visited their R&D displays and spoke to their R&D group for about an hour, on the importance of curiosity, serendipity and the ‘R’ side of R&D. We shall explore the full range of possible partnerships with 3M and I am also hoping that they will join our Anatolian Scholarship program.  

February was also the month of the Winter Olympics. I was very happy to hear from our Dean of Students that Özlem Çarıkçıoğlu, a senior student in Industrial Engineering and captain of our university ski team, competed in alpine skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. With her, the number of Koç University Olympic athletes is now 2, including Arda Gürdal (Business Administration, ’17), who competed in 100 meters freestyle swimming at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

February 25th was the 22nd anniversary of the passing away of the Founder of our university, the late Vehbi Koç. He was at the same time an incredibly successful business leader, an outstanding philanthropist and a visionary person who, above all else, loved and believed in his country. Even during the hardest times, he said 'he exists if his country exists' and continued investing and working hard on his projects. Every time I lift my head from my monitor, I see his portrait on my wall and I cannot help wondering whether we are doing justice to his vision and his tremendous investment in our university. I strongly believe we indeed are and that he would be very proud of us if he were with us. Nevertheless, 'what he would think of us' should always be our key measure of success as we try our hardest to excel in education and science.

The last non-routine day of the month was February 26th, when we held our memorial gathering for our dear faculty member Prof. Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı, who was an outstanding scientist, an academic citizen and a woman of the Turkish Republic who passed away tragically last year. I was pleased to see that through the hard work of her colleagues, the Human Development Research Award that she had established in her own name in 2017 is carried on successfully, with two bright young scientists receiving the award this year for their outstanding work at the second Prof. Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı Human Development Research Award ceremony. As we mourn Prof. Kağıtçıbaşı's early passing and feel her absence, we shall also continue to celebrate the remarkable life she has lived and her many contributions to science and Turkish society.

Such were the highlights of a typical February from the point of view of my schedule. I think we made a great start on our Spring Semester, which like always, will be over before we know it. 

My best wishes and regards to you all,

Umran Inan



Professor Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı ‘Human Development Research Award’

The second ‘Human Development Research Award’ has been presented to Dr. Elif Gül Yılmazlar from Erasmus University Rotterdam and Dr. Mustafa Öztürk from Hacettepe University. The awards were presented by Professor Zeynep Aycan and Elif Kağıtçıbaşı at a ceremony held on February 26th at Koç University. The award ceremony was followed by a memorial lecture by Yipe H. Poortinga of Tilburg University for Professor Kağıtçıbaşı who passed away last year.

College of Sciences Colloquium by Professor Kamil Uğurbil

As part of the Koç University 25th year anniversary celebrations, College of Sciences has hosted a seminar by Professor Uğurbil, Director of the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) at the University of Minnesota. Kamil Uğurbil, who was also the recipient of the 2016 Vehbi Koç Award, gave a lecture on ‘Harnessing Physics and Neuroscience towards meeting a Central Scientific Challenge in the 21st Century: Understanding Human Brain Function’.

Koç University Press

KUP is pleased to announce the latest addition to its wonderful roster. Its new book, ‘Daha Yeni Başlıyor (This Is Only the Beginning)’ is authored by a well-known Turkish businessman, Faruk Eczacıbaşı. The book is a tour-de-force discussion of the future of technology and the future of human society itself, based on Mr. Eczacıbaşı's personal and extensive professional experience as well as a very readable and even-handed assessment of the current state of affairs.

AKMED - Monetary History and Numismatics Summer School

Koç University Suna & İnan Kıraç Research Center for Mediterranean Civilizations (AKMED) will host the second Monetary History and Numismatics Summer School Program in July at AKMED, Antalya. The summer school is an intensive two-week program offering a broad chronological survey of monetary history and numismatics from Ancient to Byzantine periods. Applications will be open until April 27.